When families do not ensure that their children are in school, it is not just parents and students who are punished. Chronically absent students are unlikely to pass the high-stakes standardized tests mandated by federal and state law. Those failing students count against their teachers on their evaluations. Teachers can lose their jobs if students fail the NCLB tests, even if those students are chronically absent due to reasons related to poverty. Additionally, in districts with merit-based pay schemes, it is harder for a teacher to earn a raise if he or she works with a population of students who are often absent because test scores are considered "merit". This is a major disincentive for good teachers who want to work with the students who need the most support. It is hard to justify taking a position at a school with a low attendance rate when it could very well harm your own income and career.
Government must consider taking careful but firm action with parents who do not fulfill this basic responsibility. If the justice system neglects to act, it risks perpetuating educational inequity.